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 Post subject: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '18, 06:10 
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Has anyone tried this?
I am working on a design that will be shipped to remote locations and to save some weigth and space in the boxes we talked about using sponges but I couldn't find anything related to use it as medium.
I realized some problems related to decay, sponges breaking due to roots going trough them, now enough wheigth on the sponges to hold the plants, or the wheigth of the plants squashing the sponges.

For almost all of the issues I have ideas to tackle and maybe resolve the issue except for decay.

to sum up problems and ideas to solve them:

  • Decay: I need to see how bad is the decay, may be not too bad, and since is a natural thing migth add more waste to the bacteria to work?
  • Breaking: I guess over time i will need to replace the sponges
  • Squashing: i will use a mesh to hold the sponges in place, or maybe use ligth plants like lettuce or something that has a more round shape and a light footprint
  • Wheigth: ligth plants? maybe the mesh can provide extra support and more wheith holding capacity

The test system will be something like a growbed of 30h x 30w x 30d (metric system user here, so all my numbers are in metric, liters, centigrades), with a fishtank of about 500 liters, and maybe use some goldfish or see if I can put baby tilapias (sorry not completely familiar with the technical names of things)

So, migth be a dumb idea but in the name of science i'll give it a go (I guess is not more stupid than tying a key to a kite and wait for a ligthing to strike).

Any comments or tougths you have I appreciate it, also, if anyone has something like a checksheet to write down the values monitored and can pass it on i'll appreciate it (also did one, but due to my inexperience I probably overlooked somethign important to monitor)

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '18, 10:13 
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I don't think you would bother. simply because if media is an issue you can use a media-less approach.
DWC do not have to be floating rafts - you can use rigid sheets (roofing, anything you like that is not zinc and chemically inert) and go with the 'air gap' method. You could try the sponge there as a grow grip.

You would then simply filter the water using a drum or something - there are lots of options for this.
even using bottle caps. And you can also pretty much use local rock provided it is inert and not going to affect pH (eg. no limestone => high pH).

The most notable issue with there "remote area" (and third world) solutions is the very high risk of trace issues from the various materials and water that are used locally. The biggest issue is that you need inputs that are not really available locally. Hence something like wicking beds will often always be a better option since they can be fertilised with animal manures.

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '18, 11:51 
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dlf_perth wrote:
I don't think you would bother. simply because if media is an issue you can use a media-less approach.
DWC do not have to be floating rafts - you can use rigid sheets (roofing, anything you like that is not zinc and chemically inert) and go with the 'air gap' method. You could try the sponge there as a grow grip.

You would then simply filter the water using a drum or something - there are lots of options for this.
even using bottle caps. And you can also pretty much use local rock provided it is inert and not going to affect pH (eg. no limestone => high pH).

I also tougth of that, but this adds another thing to wok on, the separate filter, one of the requirements in the project is keep it simple, as few pieces as possible, and also if something breaks, you can improvise or replace the part; given that the reccomendations related to materials used not affect the system as you pointed out with the limestone, i most likely include some kind of test kit to make sure the choosen materials are safe (i.e. put the rocks in vinegar and watch for bubbles)
dlf_perth wrote:
You would then simply filter the water using a drum or something - there are lots of options for this. even using bottle caps

Bottle caps as growbed or just as filter? didn't think it was an option (now that i think about it, is really obvious, i will include this on the models i will build. by any chances you have something i can read about using plastics as growbed media?
dlf_perth wrote:
The most notable issue with there "remote area" (and third world) solutions is the very high risk of trace issues from the various materials and water that are used locally. The biggest issue is that you need inputs that are not really available locally. Hence something like wicking beds will often always be a better option since they can be fertilised with animal manures.

The difficulty of getting the materials and supplies is one big concern, when they get the system, where do they get the seeds? the fish? the fish food? I think that can be arranged, maybe i'll find a NGO or something like that to receive what i send and distribuite to the people running the systems, i guess i'll figure that out as soon as i know what i will be needing.

Anyway, really good info, i will take note and see what i can come up with.

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '18, 13:01 
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Always a good idea to check and see that you're not spending time reinventing the wheel. Very frustrating to find at the end of soo many hours working that you've come up with something that looks a bit like a wheel, while someone else has a lovely cheap, perfectly round wheel they have been using and fine tuning for years.

The concept of helping people in remove, underprivileged, war torn or disaster decimated areas has been around around for a long time and it's been tried by quite a few people with regards to aquaponics.

12 years ago someone helped build a system in Aceh based on one of my early systems after the tsunami. http://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/vie ... =1143#1143

Travis Hughey designed and set up barrel system in a few impoverished areas around the world, from memory it was China, Indonesia and Kenya. He even moved his family to Kenya and bought land to set up systems on to help feed the locals. http://www.fastonline.org/

These are just a couple of early ones, over the years there's been a constant flow of people trying to design, fund and supply aquaponic systems to people in war torn areas, earthquake affected, etc. I mean, hey it sounds ideal at first. Some have got there, some haven't. Have any worked long term? None that I have ever heard of, though I'd love someone to link to one which has been a success. There was one in Africa which was quite large using big pipes cut in half, damn can't remember his name, ahh Synaptoman, do a search on the forum for his name, you should find a big low tech system he built for people.

But in reality, aquaponics is a first world system for developed countries where people have very reliable power supplies, where spare parts are readily available, where people aren't so desperate they will steal pieces of the system and where people aren't relying on the system to save them from starvation.

Sorry, this probably sounds rather negative but as I mentioned, over the years there have been soo many people so excited by the prospect of supply AP syste.ms to help people out, but at the core, it's just not a really good idea, and it's been tried before. And I really feel like the bad parent, the wet blanket because I'm always typing posts like this saying "no, don't do it". Hey I understand perfectly, I thought it was a great idea for a long time but experience over the years has taught me differently.

You want to help feed people who really need it? Look to permaculture ideas, help teach people about how to use permaculture to suit their situations and local environments using agroforestry and integrated natural systems to bring back soil and grow food. Nature is far better at doing things than we are.

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 11th, '18, 02:35 
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Thanks for the feedback @earthbound, I really appreciaate the "bad parent/wet blanket" because that keeps me awake and aware of what is going on, specially because I have little knowledge that the bad parent do have.
I am aware of the complexities and different issues that migth arise when appliying AP in different places, things like weather, water availability, energy, food for the fish, supplies, spare parts, and so on. Also there migth be issues like stealing parts, damaging something because ou hate the tribe down the hill, the government don't let you be off the grid or what you want to think of.
I don't care about that, when the time is rigth i'll get to try to solve what I can, and what I can't, that will be to the next person willing to work on it.
Math came after the numbers, cars after the wheel, so we migth have now the information and knowledge, maybe now we also will have the luck, or the commitment, or whatever is needed for this to work, or not, but still is worth the try if this can help somehow.
I think it was Baruch Soinoza who said that things are in the order they are, bcause if the order is chaned the things won't be what they are but something completely diferent (I'm parafrasing and maybe too freely).
Again, thanks for the feedback, and If you have some info on the sponges I really appreciate it.

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 11th, '18, 08:21 
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LOL, and that's generally the answer from those who come here so keen and bushy tailed trying the same thing.. Don't care I'm trying it anyway.... Not sure why I bother...

Good luck, don't spend too much money on this, especially not anyone else's money.

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 Post subject: Re: Sea sponge as medium
PostPosted: Jun 11th, '18, 23:54 
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earthbound wrote:
LOL, and that's generally the answer from those who come here so keen and bushy tailed trying the same thing.. Don't care I'm trying it anyway.... Not sure why I bother...

Good luck, don't spend too much money on this, especially not anyone else's money.


We need to keep trying, you do good by keep in it real, at least for me that is a good thing, on the money side, not much to spend so i'm not worried about that :D Worst case, i'll end up with a bunch of fish and plants to eat, or a lot of plastics to recycle :D

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